University of Otago - May 1996
The mineralogical and petrological research of Prof D S Coombs and Dr W S Fyfe during the 1950's was given much needed analytical support with the purchase, jointly by the Chemistry and Geology Departments of a Philips X-ray diffractometer in 1957. This instrument supported research conducted by A J Ellis, R M Carr, A M Taylor, J Rogers, C J Churchman and others in a variety of areas ranging from zeolite synthesis, aluminosilicate stabilities and solubilities to coal chemistry and clay mineral reactivity. A new diffractometer system with a Philips PW1010 generator was purchased by the Chemistry Department in 1971 and the generator was replaced with a PW1830 unit in 1992. Since 1957 the powder equipment has been used mainly for "fingerprint" identification and for teaching basic X-ray crystallography. Currently R M Carr is using the equipment to examine the formation of aluminium oxide pillars in Vermiculite.
Single crystal work began in the early 70's with a collaboration between Jim Simpson and Brian Robinson from Otago with Bruce Penfold and Ward Robinson in Christchurch. The appointment of Claire Couldwell to a temporary post on the staff in 1974 brought and passed on first hand structure solving expertise to the Department, as well as a great deal of software. The Otago/Canterbury collaboration has stood the test of time with Otago making regular use of the excellent X-ray data collection service provided by Ward Robinson. The number of staff solving and refining their own structures has also grown, with Lyall Hanton, Sally Brooker and Allan Blackman all members of the burgeoning X-ray club.